The world’s oldest wine-growing estate was discovered by archaeologists in Armenia back in 2011. A cave in the mountains in Areni, south-eastern Armenia, homed 6,100-year-old grape press and fermentation vessels. Since then, Armenia has kept its place in the list of the most ancient wine-making cultures.
According to the legend, it was Noah, who brought vine to the Armenian land first. He planted a sprout in the Ararat valley at the foot of the majestic Mount Ararat, where his ark descended.
For millennia the juice-filled brunches, wine vessels and ornate vines used to cover the walls of ancient pagan citadels and stone bas-reliefs of medieval churches throughout Armenia. In the 9th century BC, local kings planted vineyards as a symbol of their rule and guarantee of eternal life. They managed to establish dominance not by destruction, which was typical to the conquerors of the time, but by planting vineyards. The ancient Greek philosophers Herodotus, Xenophon, Strabo and others spoke about the unforgettable taste of Armenian wines.
One of the most beloved holidays for Armenians, the thousand-year-old harvest and grape-blessing festival has remained in the calendar of the Armenian Apostolic Church to this day.
Today Armenia occupies a special place on the world wine map. Although Armenia is known all over the world, first, thanks to the legendary Ararat brandy, nowadays Armenian wine production is experiencing a period of renaissance, and the Armenian wines are gaining worldwide recognition. Wineries appear throughout the country now, and one can find a large number of various wine bars in the Yerevan, where one of the central streets has been called a ‘wine street’ for several years, as it is packed with lively wine bars, shops and houses, loved by the locals and tourists. It is on this street that the annual Wine Days, the festival of Armenian wine, are held in May, where wine producers present their products and the possibility of tasting to everyone. A wine festival takes place every year in the village of Areni as well, the same one where the oldest winery was discovered.
Grapes grow in five wine-growing regions of the country, where there are more than 400 local grape varieties, of which around 30 are used for wine-making. For whites, Voskehat, Kangun and Khatun grape varieties are common, while for the reds, it is mostly Areni or Areni Noire.
Winemaking in Armenia is a priority sector of the economy, the development of the industry is approved in the general plan of the country’s strategic development until 2025. In 2016 the Wine & Wine Foundation of Armenia was established, the main goal of which is to promote the development of viticulture and increase the attractiveness of Armenia as a wine-making country.
The products of the Armenian winemakers win at international prestigious competitions such as DECANTER, MundusVini, MuscatsduMonde, LeMondialduRose, ConcoursMondialdeBruxelles, etc. Armenian wine is presented at many festivals, including London Wine Fest. Thanks to the infusion of fresh forces in the form of repatriates from all over the world, Armenian winemaking, one of the country’s oldest traditions, today is experiencing the revival. And this is just the beginning.